Cancer Talk

[Archived from September 11, 2009]

[by Pami]

Many of us will be touched  by cancer in one way or another at some point in our lives. Most cancer is sporadic and considered a random “bad luck” event, but for a small proportion of the population cancer is hereditary and can be seen in multiple family members amongst many generations.

It is known that 5-10 percent of all cancer is hereditary. One hereditary cancer syndrome that we know a lot about is Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome. This syndrome is explained by a presence of a genetic change in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.

When there is a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene change in a family it is known that the family members who harbor the gene change will have an increased risk for both breast and ovarian cancer primarily. The associated lifetime risk for breast cancer is 80 percent while the lifetime risk for ovarian cancer is 27-45 percent.

In the general population, we find that approximately one in 500 to one in 1,000 people harbor a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene change. It is known that this risk is much higher in the Ashkenazi Jewish population with one in 40 people harboring a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene change.

For this reason, any Ashkenazi Jewish woman who has been diagnosed with breast and/or ovarian cancer is greatly encouraged to consider genetic counseling and testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

It is also important for unaffected individuals, of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, who have a family history of breast and ovarian cancer to consider genetic counseling and testing. This is because there are many preventative options available for women who are known to have these high risks for breast and ovarian cancer due to BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene changes.

Norton Cancer Institute’s Genetic Counseling Services is presenting an educational symposium regarding BRCA1 and BRCA2. This symposium is a summary of the topics discussed at the Annual Joining FORCES Conference that was held in May of this year in Orlando, FL. You are encouraged to come and learn more about Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome and how it could affect you and your family.

The High Risk for Breast and Ovarian Cancer symposium with updates from Joining FORCES will be Wednesday, September 30, at 5:30 p.m. at Gilda’s Club Louisville, 633 Baxter Ave.

Topics that will be discussed include: Young and High Risk, Reclaiming your Sexuality/Managing Menopause, Discussing Risk with Family Members and What’s New for BRCA Positive Patients?

Please RSVP by calling 502-629-GENE (4363). You may also call this number to speak to a genetic counselor about your personal/family history as well as genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2.

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